Many people in the Tempe, Arizona area, as well as greater Phoenix, may be under the common perception that in a child custody dispute, the child's mother has an automatic edge in that it easier for her to get custody than it is for a father to do so. This perception is likely based on the historical trend that when, a couple splits, children usually live with their mothers.
Under Arizona law, though, there is absolutely no preference given to a child's mother as opposed to the child's father. Both parents are on equal footing, at least initially, when it comes to child custody and parenting time. The one caveat to this rule is that, in a situation involving an unmarried couple, a father has to legally establish his paternity before he can expect to have any legal rights to custody.
Even though Arizona courts are expected to give no preference to either the mother or the father, it is important for dads, and moms, to remember that custody decisions are usually made in the discretion of the judge hearing the case, many his or her own preferences are going to be important deciding factors in any decision. Although one hopes it is not the case, it is possible for a judge to show some natural preference toward giving moms custody even if the father seems like the best parent to watch over a child.
This is why fathers who have the law on their side may still want to have the aid of skilled and experienced Arizona family law attorney who will help them stand up for their fathers' rights. As so much is riding on the decision of a judge in a child custody case, it is essential that a dad advocate for his position in the strongest manner possible.